US considers launch of Russian-language news channel to rival RT

US considers launch of Russian-language news channel to rival RT
(Image: Wing1990hk under a CC licence)

20 August 2014
Text Nadia Beard

A US federal agency is considering plans to launch a Russian-language counterpart to RT (formerly Russian Today), a Kremlin-backed English-language news channel. The idea for the new channel was proposed this week to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a department responsible for supervising state-funded international media, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

A BBG representative told The Hollywood Reporter: “The subject of a possible TV channel in Russian was a topic that came up in passing in discussion at a meeting of the BBG earlier this week. The board discussion closed with agreement to develop a proposal to seek funding for such a project.”

Nenad Peyich, the administrator of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said: “The TV channel will be dedicated to Russia and should be aired in Russian. This will change the rules of the game in the media landscape.”

Andre Mendes, BBG’s director for international affairs, has estimated that, excluding the production of content, the satellite television network would cost around $750,000 a year.

Commenting on the plans for the new channel, Editor-in-chief of RT, Margarita Simonyan, told The Hollywood Reporter: “Good luck [to them].”

RT was launched in 2005 and has since become one of Russia’s most popular news channels, reaching more than 600 million people in over 100 countries. The channel has attracted attention in recent months after several western reporters publicly resigned, citing biased coverage of events in Ukraine and more recently the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

See also:

Russia Today launches controversial ad campaign

Russian media: A guide to the troubled world of independent journalism

Media compass: Russia’s changing media landscape